'A part of this courthouse'
CROWLEY - Possibly the most surprising thing about Nelson Sonnier’s surprise retirement party Friday, is that he truly was surprised.
“I really wasn’t expecting this,” said an emotional Sonnier as he entered the Police Jury Chamber surrounded by his family, friends and people who’s respect he’d earned during his 34 years at the Acadia Parish Courthouse. To listen to those attending the party, it was impossible to pin down a specific title for Sonnier. Many referred to him as simply “the man who made it happen.”
Deputy Clerk of Court Blane Faulk recalled a monumental wiring project at the courthouse that Sonnier completed.
“He ran 3.26 miles of wiring from the floors, up the elevator shaft, onto the roof and into the tower with the clock bell,” said Faulk. “He never complained ... he didn’t even seem as though he was in a bad mood.”
“He’s one of the kindest people I know,” said Judge Kristian Earles. “I can’t remember a day when he wouldn’t take some time to make you laugh. Nelson is a part of this courthouse.”
“I’m very happy for Nelson,” said Crowley attorney Burliegh Doga. “He deserves to enjoy a long and happy retirement. It does make me kind of sad that we won’t be seeing him every day.”
Though Sonnier is no longer an employee of the courthouse, his wife, Mamie, says that it will be virtually impossible to stop him from visiting there.
“I’ll try to keep him home but I’m afraid he’ll keep coming back,” said Mamie Sonnier. “This courthouse, and the people who worked here made it a place he really wanted to be.“
Sonnier does plan to relax a bit once his retirement become official this Tuesday.
“If I can sneak away from my wife I may do some fishing,” he said with a wry smile. “She is putting together a honey-do list for me. At first, it was written on a small card. Now it’s on a piece of legal paper.”
Among those in attendance for Sonnier’s retirment party were, Judge Earles, Doga, Faulk, District Judge John Trahan and Crowley City Judge M’elise Trahan, Acadia Parish Assessor James “Jimbo” Petitjean and Acadia Parish Director of Homeland Security Lee Hebert.